Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is being constructed in a way it’s accessible to viewers regardless if they’ve seen WandaVision or not.
Viewers do not have to watch WandaVision to understand Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Following a prolonged delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Marvel finally started their Phase 4, which combines TV shows on Disney+ and their traditional feature films. Unlike the Marvel ABC and Netflix series, there’s going to be substantial overlap between the new Disney+ programs and the movies. For instance, the ongoing WandaVision connects with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, which ties into the recently-titled Spider-Man: No Way Home.
As the MCU expands across multiple mediums, one possible concern is expecting viewers to keep up with the large amount of material. It’s entirely possible some people who see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness or Spider-Man 3 haven’t watched WandaVision, which could present a problem. If the narratives are intertwined, Marvel runs the risk of losing viewers who haven’t seen everything. Fortunately, the filmmakers are cognizant of this and made efforts to ensure that doesn’t happen.
While at TCA, Kevin Feige mentioned he worked close with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness director Sam Raimi to ensure his movie is still “accessible” to general audiences regardless of whether or not they’ve seen WandaVision.
This is a sound strategy. While Disney+ is up to over 95 million subscribers and WandaVision is one of the most popular TV shows currently, it isn’t a stretch to say not everyone who goes to see Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will be overly familiar with what happened in WandaVision. One of the strengths of Marvel movies is they strike a balance between appealing to die-hards and more general viewers, which is how the franchise has become such a dominant global brand. It wouldn’t make sense for Marvel to intentionally alienate a section of viewers by constructing the movie in such a way that watching WandaVision is a requirement. This will likely be how they handle the movie/TV show dynamics throughout Phase 4.
Obviously, there will still be connections between the two, but it sounds like they’ll be added bonuses for those who have seen WandaVision. That way, Marvel can essentially have their cake and eat it too. They won’t lose more general audiences mostly interested in the movies, but the people who have seen WandaVision will feel like their investment was worthwhile. And depending on how Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness turns out, it could encourage more people to go back and watch WandaVision so they get the full picture. Regardless of what happens, it sounds like Marvel is on the right track.